Benner on Tech: Will Lyft Bring Icahn and Andreessen Together?

Katie Benner is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes about technology, innovation, and the cult and culture of Silicon Valley. She lives in San Francisco.
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Carl Icahn put $100 million into the car-hailing service Lyft as it burns through cash trying to compete with Uber. Being a big, important investor should give Icahn all sorts of intel into a market he’ll want to be an active public market investor in sometime in the not-so-distant future, and the move is in keeping with his growing interest in the tech sector. (Remember Yahoo, Netflix, eBay and Apple?)

This is no passive investment. Jonathan Christodoro, a managing director of Icahn Enterprises, will join Lyft’s board.

I wonder whether Icahn and Andreessen Horowitz, another big investor in Lyft, have put their differences behind them. Remember the ugly fight that broke out with Marc Andreessen when Icahn wanted eBay and PayPal to break up?

If you need a refresher, Icahn said Andreessen had been a terrible, perhaps dishonest, eBay director, writing in a letter to the board, “Since Mr. Andreessen has been an eBay insider, he has engaged in several transactions that lead us to question his loyalty to eBay.” Andreessen likened Icahn to “the Evil Captain Kirk” and told CNBC that Icahn “lies, he just makes stuff up. He slanders. … It's like his inner 6-year-old comes out."

Good times all around. Let’s hope that fewer sparks fly between Icahn Enterprises’ Christodoro and Scott Weiss, the Andreessen Horowitz partner who is also a Lyft director.

Meet Nikesh Arora

SoftBank’s founder Masayoshi Son recently said that Google’s former head of global sales, Nikesh Arora, is his heir apparent. Nikesh Who? For those not steeped in Google Kremlinology, the Financial Times has a nice profile of the man who could someday lead a company that’s both a major Japanese telco and a hugely influential tech investment firm. And in a recent Q&A with Fortune, Arora discussed his relationship with Son and SoftBank’s acquisition of Sprint.

Tim Cook’s Challenge to Graduates

During his graduation speech at George Washington University, Apple’s chief executive exhorted the new graduates to find work that had a moral purpose because the world is still full of problems and injustices that demand solutions and change. Said Tim Cook: “You don’t have to choose between doing good and doing well -- it’s a false choice, today more than ever.”

ICYMI, the Best Recent Tech Longreads

** Fast Company examines InnerTube, YouTube’s attempt to remake itself as a strong competitor to Netflix and HBO.

This is a change that we had to make if YouTube was going to continue as an important thing on the Internet. ... We had to become a destination.

** Business Insider has an inside look at the radical management philosophy that’s causing so much turnover at Zappos.

Instead of people challenging it, they were sharing what they were learning -- they were talking about how they liked it. … Multiple people came up afterwards to hug me, some with tears in their eyes.

** California Sunday Magazine chronicles the lives of the teens who live and work in Silicon Valley.

“I help pay my mom’s bills. I played Santa this year to my sisters. It’s a wonderful feeling.”


Uber is facing a challenge in London where Mayor Boris Johnson wants to limit the number of private-hire minicabs. (Bloomberg)

Xapo, the bitcoin services and security company, is relocating from Palo Alto, California, to Zurich, Switzerland, because of customers’ privacy concerns. (CoinDesk)

People and Personnel Moves

Google’s top PR people now run communications for tech’s most important companies, including Elliot Schrage (Facebook), Jill Hazelbaker (Snapchat), Aaron Zamost (Square), Gabriel Stricker (Twitter) and Rachel Whetstone (Uber). (Forbes)

Bill Gates, the world’s richest person, says that current tax rates aren’t restraining growth or discouraging innovation. (Bloomberg)


Alibaba was sued by luxury brands such as Gucci and Balenciaga for not doing enough to combat counterfeit goods sold on its platform. (Wall Street Journal)

Amazon’s deal with Woody Allen has already soured. The director says he regrets agreeing to make a TV show for the company. (Financial Times)

Apple acquired a GPS navigation company called Coherent Navigation. (MacRumors)

Google search results pages will soon include “buy” buttons so that the company can start competing with Amazon. (Wall Street Journal) The company will test its self-driving cars on the public streets of Mountain View, California, this summer. (Bloomberg)

Media Files

Live streaming services like Periscope could have an immediate impact on sports broadcasters. (Guardian)

Vice Media’s Shane Smith and Spike Jonze talk about the future of video while on location in Cuba. (Financial Times)

Security Watch

A security researcher was briefly able to control a plane by hacking into the in-flight entertainment system, according to FBI documents. (Wired)

British intelligence officers and police can now hack into devices and be granted immunity from prosecution. (Guardian)

Chinese hackers got into Penn State‘s College of Engineering and had access to the computer systems for more than two years. (New York Times)

News and Notes

E-commerce sales increased by 3.5 percent in the first quarter of this year and hit a record $80 billion, while retail sales overall fell by 1.5 percent. (Bloomberg)

To contact the author on this story:
Katie Benner at

To contact the editor on this story:
Stacey Shick at